Expert tax advice to prepare for fiscal cliff

December 18, 2012

In fact, the fiscal cliff is turning traditional suggestions upside down.

First - a quick recap of the fiscal cliff. If we go over it, expect a sudden drop in federal spending and an automatic increase in tax rates.

And this will happen come New Year's Day unless together - Democrats and Republicans stop it.

Money experts like Chuck Minnich say if Congress fails to take action to save America from the fiscal cliff by December 31st, here's what will happen:

"The payroll taxes will go back up and in addition the income taxes will go back up, so your take home pay will go back down," he said.

The take-home pay for a family of four making $67,000 could be reduced by a couple thousand dollars!

But in terms of the big picture, Minnich says, there's no need to immediately panic.

"It's more of a fiscal slope," said Minnich. "On January 1st, it's not as if we're going to see economic Armageddon."

However, if the fiscal cliff stays in effect for the entire year, Minnich says we will fall back into a recession at some point during the next year.

And you need to consider all this when doing your year-end tax preparation.

"The advice that we normally give, you want to do the exact opposite this year," he said.

Consider deferring your deductions into next year and accelerating your income this year to take advantage of what is likely to be today's lower tax rates.

If you are due a bonus, ask to receive it in now instead of in January.

Also, consider converting some or all of your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.

If you are self-employed, collect your receivables by the end of the year.

And give to your favorite charity come January 1st rather than before December 31st.

"Or if you're retired and taking money from your IRA for your expenses, you might want to make those IRA withdraws this year to cover next year's expenses," said Minnich.

Also - consider selling investments that have grown in value now to take advantage of today's lower long-term capital gains rates. And in turn, save stock losses to take next year.

And finally, put yourself in a position to react quickly to the markets.


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